Flour Sack Towel vs. Cheesecloth

Kitchen towels come in many forms, each with their own unique properties and uses.

Flour Sack Towel vs. Cheesecloth

Two of the most versatile are flour sack towels and cheesecloth.

But what exactly sets them apart?

Flour Sack Towel vs. Cheesecloth Comparison

Here is a breakdown of how flour sack towels and cheesecloths stack up across the most important factors:

FactorFlour Sack TowelsCheesecloth
Materials100% cotton, more tightly woven100% cotton gauze, loose open weave
AbsorbencyHighly absorbentLess absorbent
DurabilityVery durable, resists tearingMore delicate, frays easily
CostAffordable, excellent valueCan be more expensive
AvailabilityReadily availableSometimes harder to find
Best UsesDrying, polishing, crafts, storageStraining, wrapping foods

As shown in the table, while both cloths share some traits, flour sack towels tend to be more versatile, durable, and budget-friendly. Cheesecloth offers specialty uses for food prep and storage needing its extra delicate nature.

Materials Used

The materials used to construct flour sack towels and cheesecloth account for most of the differences between them.

Flour sack towels consist of durable 100% cotton fabric woven more densely with a tighter thread count. This gives them enhanced strength and longevity compared to other kitchen textiles. The cotton makes up thick and thin threads interlaced over-and-under each other.

The result is an ultra-absorbent towel that lets liquid through while trapping solids. An unbleached organic cotton flour sack towel works great for straining stocks or fruit juices.

Cheesecloth uses the same 100% cotton material but woven into a loose, open gauze texture with extra wide spacing between threads. Rather than thick and thin interwoven strands like with flour sack towels, cheesecloth contains threads of the same thin gage.

Key Takeaway: Flour sack towels use a thicker, more tightly woven 100% cotton material while cheesecloth features a thinner, loose open gauze-style cotton weave.

This lends cheesecloth enhanced breathability and air flow suited for wrapping cheeses during aging to allow moisture to evaporate while keeping mold at bay. But it comes at the cost of strength and longevity.


The denser cotton weave gives flour sack towels far greater absorbency than cheesecloth. Flour sack towels soak up enormous amounts of moisture quickly, rivaling the thickness of terry cloth dish towels.

In contrast, the poor absorbency of cheesecloth causes liquid to pool on the surface rather than soak in.

If used to dry dishes or as a kitchen towel, cheesecloth would become soaked through and start dripping once saturated. For drying tasks, flour sack towels are the clear winner.


The tight over-and-under weave of flour sack towels makes them extremely durable and resistant to tearing or fraying even under heavy use. They can withstand hundreds of washes while retaining their integrity.

In fact, flour sack towels seem to get even softer and more flexible over time. It’s not uncommon for them to last 5-10 years or more!

Meanwhile, cheesecloth prone to fraying and developing holes quickly with regular handling. Don’t expect a cheesecloth to make it more than a few uses before needing retirement. It tears easily if adjusted too much while straining soups or wrapping food.

Key Takeaway: The dense cotton weave of flour sack towels gives them unmatched durability compared to the flimsier cheesecloth.


A single flour sack towel costs just a few dollars, even when buying high quality organic heavyweight options. Yet their extreme durability delivers exceptional value, with some lasting basically forever. This makes them one of the most economical kitchen textiles available.

Cheesecloth tends to cost a little more despite their short lifespan of just a use or two. And needing to constantly replace torn cheesecloths over time further reduces any potential savings.


You can find flour sack towels virtually everywhere kitchen linens are sold, from big box stores to specialty shops. Their popularity makes them abundantly available.

Meanwhile, cheesecloth can be trickier to locate at times. While some grocers carry small packages, you might need to visit restaurant supply outlets or order online if unable to find cheesecloth locally.

The scarcity of cheesecloth makes having flour sack towels on hand a smart just-in-case substitution.

Best Uses

The traits of flour sack towels and cheesecloth align them with certain applications better than others:

  • Flour sack towels – Drying dishes, producing glassware, crafts projects, lining breadbaskets
  • Cheesecloth – Straining stocks and broths, wrapping cheeses, packing foods

Flour sack towels truly shine as an all-purpose kitchen towel thanks to their absorbency, durability, lint-free cleaning ability, and heat resistance letting them keep baked goods warm. Crafters also love upcycling old flour sack towels into clothing, accessories, baby items, and more.

Despite its delicacy, cheesecloth offers some unique uses flour sack towels can’t match. Its open weave makes it ideal for evenly straining fine particles from stocks and broths. Winemakers also trust cheesecloth when clarifying wines.

The breathability also suits cheesecloth for wrapping cheese during the aging process. Its gauze texture provides protection while allowing moisture and molds to escape.

For food prepping and storage, cheesecloth’s lightness prevents bruising soft fruits or crushing breads when lining baskets. It also works for trapping herbs and spices into bundles.

Detailed Comparison of Uses

Below we’ll explore some of the top uses for flour sack and cheesecloth towels and explain why one may work better than the other:

Drying Dishes

Of the two towels, only the flour sack towel should be used for drying dishes. Its super absorbency prevents moisture from dripping back onto drying dishes.

Cheesecloth lacks the absorbency needed to effectively dry dishes. Water pools on the surface, then drips once saturated.

For getting dishes dry fast without resorting to paper towels, flour sack towels are the best option.

Straining Foods

When it comes to straining soups and broths, cheesecloth is the clear winner. Its gauzy open weave evenly filters fine particles from liquids to produce crystal clear stocks.

The tighter cotton weave of flour sack towels tends to trap more sediment while straining. This leaves broths cloudier unless using multiple layers.

For the clearest juices, stocks and infused oils, trust cheesecloth over flour sack for straining.

Polishing Glassware

A favorite use for flour sack towels is polishing glassware and tableware until sparkling clean. Their lint-free, soft fabric buffs away smudges without scratching.

Cheesecloth should be avoided for polishing glassware. Its loose weave could leave behind cotton strands or lint. The thin fabric also risks catching on delicate crystal stems or etchings.

Wrapping Foods

You’ll want to use cheesecloth rather than flour sack towels when wrapping foods. Cheesecloth creates an airy barrier that keeps foods visible while allowing some moisture transmission.

This makes it perfect for wrapping cheese wheels to control humidity levels during aging without trapping excess moisture. Its breathability also prevents breads or pastries from getting soggy.

Flour sack towels lack cheesecloth’s moisture wicking properties. Foods wrapped in flour sack towels would turn mushy from trapped condensation.


Both flour sack towels and cheesecloth work for crafts, but their differing durability suits them for certain projects over others.

Crafters love upcyling old flour sack towels into all kinds of repurposed goods thanks to their durability. Some popular flour sack crafts include:

  • Tote bags
  • Pillow covers
  • Quilts
  • Aprons
  • Dolls and stuffed animals
  • Headbands, hair ties
  • Rugs
  • Reusable gift wrap

For crafts demanding a fabric able to withstand frequent use and washing, flour sack towels fit the bill. Even novice sewers find them an easy material to work with.

Meanwhile, cheesecloth offers uses where only a temporary delicate material is needed, like:

  • Ghosts and masks for costumes
  • Temporary outdoor decorations
  • Lampshade covers
  • Plant protection from frost
  • Straining paints or polishes

Anything more than very light use would quickly destroy a cheesecloth craft. But their gauzy fragility lends perfectly to creating fun horror motifs.

So while flour sack material makes the best choice for lasting upcycled creations, cheesecloths work great for fun decorations requiring only short term use.


Both cloths help with food storage in different ways.

Cheesecloth is ideal for wrapping bread loaves, cookies, and delicate baked goods headed for storage. Its lightweight fabric creates air flow to prevent condensation without crushing the goods. Cheesecloth also makes a great liner for berry baskets, preventing bruising.

Flour sack towels lend their absorbent talents to keeping foods fresh. Lay one over rising bread dough to control humidity while proofing. The dryness prevents surface drying without forming a skin. Flour sack towels also work nicely as impromptu hot pads for keeping cooked foods like dinner rolls steaming hot.

Baby Uses

Parents love using flour sack towels for a variety of baby duties. Their soft, gentle fabric makes an ideal burping cloth able to withstand repeat washings.

Many also use flour sack towels as a reusable diaper material. Fold them into a triangle shape, layer for absorbency, and secure with diaper pins. Being natural cotton, they make a comfortable, eco-friendly diaper.

For baby uses, both cloths work but flour sack towels hold up longer. Even receiving blankets and swaddling blankets made from flour sack cotton prove ultra-soft yet durable.


Are flour sack towels and cheesecloth the same thing?

While sometimes confused and used interchangeably, flour sack and cheesecloth differ quite a bit in materials, durability, longevity and ideal uses. They share both being cotton gauze textiles but have unique properties setting them apart.

Can you use a flour sack towel as cheesecloth?

In a pinch, a flour sack towel can substitute for some cheesecloth uses like covering rising bread dough or lining a berry basket. But for applications like finely straining stocks or wrapping cheeses during aging, flour sack towels can’t match the moisture wicking gauze weave of real cheesecloth.

Is cheesecloth stronger than flour sack?

Flour sack towels are far stronger and more durable than cheesecloth. The dense, thickly woven cotton stands up to heavy wash and wear over years if not decades. Delicate cheesecloth starts fraying after just light or temporary use.

Do flour sack towels get softer?

Yes! Not only are flour sack towels ultra-soft to begin with, but they actually get even gentler and more pliable over time with repeated use and laundering. Few textiles gain improved softness while retaining their durability like flour sack towels.

Should flour sack towels be bleached?

Bleaching flour sack towels isn’t recommended. The powerful chemicals in bleach can damage and weaken natural fibers over time. For best results, wash flour sack towels in warm, soapy water and air dry. If needed, remove stains by soaking in oxygenated bleach.

How do you make flour sack towels white again?

To restore dingy flour sack towels to their original bright white, soak them for 30-60 minutes in oxygen bleach mixed with warm water. Then launder as usual. The oxygen bleach disinfects and whitens without the damaging effects of chlorine bleach.

Can you put flour sack towels in the dryer?

Flour sack towels can technically handle machine drying on low or no heat settings. But to maximize longevity, air drying is recommended. The extreme temperatures inside dryers gradually break down their natural cotton fibers over repeat exposure.


Flour sack and cheesecloth towels share some overlapping uses like covering rising doughs or lining breadbaskets thanks to both originating from cotton gauze fabric. But fundamental differences in their materials and construction make each better suited for certain kitchen jobs.

Cheesecloth’s open loose weave works beautifully for straining stocks and wrapping cheeses without trapping moisture. However, its extreme delicacy causes tearing with regular handling.

Flour sack towels lack cheesecloth’s gauzy breathability but offer far more versatility and value. Their tightly woven 100% cotton stands up to years of washing and heavy use without fraying, while getting even softer over time. Flour sack towels also cost just a few dollars, making them extremely economical.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.